Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks ring out the old with a win and look for a new era of championship hockey

Well, that was easy, wasn't it?

After my share of refreshments at Chequers in LaGrange Thursday night, where owner Matt and barkeep Tom and beautiful waitress Christine rung in my new year just fine and I assured them I'd kiss ass, it felt especially good to be in a positive Blackhawks atmosphere where the 5-1 win over New Jersey was expected and not a surprise.

Troy Brouwer is the most underrated player in the league. And that's how you get over the hump to win championships, with people that emerge from obscurity.

Replacement analyst Denis Savard gave the No. 1 star on Comcast to goalie Cristobal Huet, but I think Savard is still part of the feel-good brigade that is trying hard as they might to will Huet into being a No. 1 goalie, which he still has to prove to many of us he is.

He was OK, but not three-star worthy. Well, maybe third star. I'm being kind, which is just my nature.

I got no problem with anything right now, because we have the best team in hockey and I have a snootfull.

It's amazing to me Savard is still cheering on the Hawks in such public fashion after being fired just a year ago. That shows what an amazing game hockey is and the tremendous individuals that are part of it.

You won't see Lovie Smith kissing the Bears ass a year after he's fired.

I don't have a problem, either, with  Savard or any of our blog commenters pumping up the problematic Huet. I'm still rooting for my No. 1 puppy Keira to take a shit in the grass and not right outside the door on the patio.

Just like Huet, it's a process. My hope is Huet and Keira both evolve into shit-stirrers in 2010.

Judging by this game, Team Canada anchor Martin Brodeur might be a problem child in the 2010 Olympics. But who gives a shit about the Devils or Team Canada for that matter.

Saint Johnny Toews was an icon, as usual, in this game. What else is new. But let's celebrate the new year by naming the five things we would like to see from the Hawks in 2010.

I want to hear from you, as always, since this is your blog and not mine. But here's my top five.

ONE: Marian Hossa has to find a way to be exceptional rather than pretty good. And Coach Joel Quenneville has to make it happen.

TWO: Kris Versteeg has to harness his excellent skills into a managable hockey player who plays within the system and makes a difference by being solid rather than fancy. Versteeg could be a monster if he adapts.

THREE: Patrick Kane has to continue to be the MVP of the National Hockey League, which he has so far. No one can touch him at his best, not even those ballyhooed guys Ovechin or Crosby (not Bing).

FOUR: The power play has to move the puck with the rhythm we have seen on occasion and not just once in a while.

FIVE: John Madden has to continue to be the psychological motivator that he has been so far and provide the character factor on ice and off that wins championships in the trenches.

While I'm out of numbers, let me add that I hope the Blackhawks Confidential community that has grown over the past year keeps on keeping the Blackhawks honest by providing your honest opinions on this site, where we are beholden to no one and say what we mean, right, wrong or bullshit.

Thanks for your passion, your knowledge, your observations, your sarcasm, your criticisms of us and your belief that sometimes we are full of shit.

I'll try to keep being a pain in the ass if you will. What more can you ask with a new year where we have the NHL by the short hairs and a Stanley Cup is real and not a fictitious goal

Give me your five wishes for the new year, other than winning than lottery. Peace, and let's kick ass.

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13 Comments

SDSTAN said:

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Mike, Happy New Year, and thanks for your entertaining and insightful comments. What a great team effort tonight. Huet was steady, which is all he needs to be when we play like that. I will add two wishes to the list for 2010: Huet needs to steal a couple of games in the second half with exceptional goaltending and please Buff, show up every night, every shift. Cheers and Happy New Year!

Mike Kiley said:

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Buff to show up every night? My God you are asking for miracles.

FearlessFreep said:

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As Stan said, a happy new year to you.

What a great way to end the new year. This was the kind of game the Hawks, and Huet in particular, needed to wipe away Tuesday's performance. Brouwer is fast becoming one of THE underrated studs of this team - he could become a huge factor as the season winds down and we get into the playoffs.

Unfortunate that Huet did not get the shutout - I thought it showed class that the offending ref in the turnover by Dunks appeared to admit his bad to Huet after the goal. But it doesn't take away how well he played - very pleased about that.

Now I'll wait for the Winter Classic Pt III and then look forward to the Saturday tilt vs. the Blues.

This Freep wishes all contributors to the blog my best wishes for the new year.

VegasHawksFan said:

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Happy New Year everyone. That was a great game to watch. I think the Hawks have again shown that they do have another gear to kick things up. The probably had a lot of extra emotion against a tired Devils team last night, but still, NJ was arguably the best team coming into last night and the Hawks spanked em. If only they could do that to Dallas.

Dave Morris said:

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Oncle Michel, Bonne Et Heureuse Année to you and yours, and to all our friends here, from French Canadian Hawquey People such as myself.

I know The Count of Monte Cristo is French French, but he's an honorary French Canadian today for taking the merde and being a star anyway.

As Monsieur Huet said after the game, "I take pride in trying to regroup after a bad game, try to take away the negative. The team played well in front of me."

Maybe not Eddie Belfour-ish, but who gives a hoot?

The last goalie to win a Cup was the soft-spoken and admittedly sensitive Mr. Glenn Hall, who I remember well even if I had to watch him between snowstorms on our coal-powered RCA Victor back in the day.

If Huet is channelling Hall instead of Eddie The Eagle, that's just fine with me.

And I know why my not so distant relative Denis Savard has nothing but good things to say about Les Blaque Hawques. Because they're a damn fine hockey team, and he helped build it.

Denis also has class...and so does this flock of Hawks.

For 2010, I hope Hawks fans start really enjoying their team, and start appreciating every single one of these guys who have the guts to go out there and risk life and limb to entertain us.

They can't all be superstars, but it's clear that they have all Committed to the Indian.

They proved it last night by making the Devils "look tired", as Martin Le Magnifique Brodeur so tersely framed it.

The Devilish Captain Langenbrunner said it best. "They're very dangerous. They may be very fun to watch, but they're very hard to play against. They outplayed us most of the game."

And Mike, keep on being the royal pain in the tuchus you are, for you are one of The Last Honest Hockey Writers on this planet.

I'll celebrate the New Year by going out, shoveling off our neighborhood rink and playing in our own Winter Classic, wearing my Hawks jersey and marveling at how much better the kids I play with are, than I ever was...or ever could ever be.

Cheers.

Hostile Hawk said:

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What a perfect way to bring in the new year. We shutout the Wings twice, in a row, and then proceed to destroy the Devils on the last night of 2009. 2010 is OURS! I completely agree with your statement about Brouwer and enjoy any supportive comments thrown in Toews' direction. Huet was damn solid last night. Sure, the Hawks played astoundingly, but Huet put himself in good position to make strong saves and bounce back from an awful performance. Obviously, I agree with the statement that he has a long way to go to prove himself, especially to me, but games like last night make it seem possible and show that, while it would be nice, maybe the Hawks don't need a star goalie to beat great teams. For the moment, I tip my hat in Huet's direction. He actually started looking confident in that game.
I really enjoyed your top five, so I thought I would give it a try.

1.) That Bolland and Burish come back healthy and ready, making this team even more elite than it already is. Leading to complete and fine tuned line combinations for the playoffs and providing the formula to make Hossa shine.
2.) For Campbell to keep feeling that pressure to earn his paycheck and play hard, every night.
3.) I like Niemi, he shows too much promise to go unnoticed, and I want to keep seeing more of his possible talents.
4.) I have to agree with your Kane and Versteeg picks. Kane needs to assert himself in this league even more and become the great he is meant to be. Though I think it might be another year or two until he is really shinning. Versteeg has all of the fire and talent necessary to be an elite player too. So my wish is that he stays in Hawks uniform next year.
5.) The best defense in the league supports this team and leads them through the playoffs with the offense providing a barrage of goals unable to be matched.
Happy New Years! GO HAWKS!

fattybeef said:

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Typical huet... absolutely positively shits the bed one game and plays stellar the next. He made some very good saves, no way around that, however expect 4 average performances then a stinker as the cycle repeats itself. Nik better not be hurt to bad becuase he needs to be out there blocking shots...


Also I think you were dead on when you said Hossa needs a real center. Sharp is doing a great job filling in and playing a solid 2 way role however he's a sniper by trade and I honestly dont think he knows how to play with a player like Hossa in the position he is in. Also, Hossa now needs to both create and finish on that line which he did not have to do with either Detroit or the Penguins. Unfortunately they dont have a better option at the moment.

Please please please dont suggest Q breaks up the Toews line... It is the Toews line, I know you guys love Kaner and he's one hell of a talent but JT is what makes that line tick. Id say its the most productive line in hockey right now and like any other sport you dont mess with something working that well.

I liked the powerplay line with Sharp, Hossa and Madden. I think thats a preview for things to come when Bolland comes back. Quite frankly the power play has looked excellent the last few games and hopefully they can keep it rocking.


And I just want to see Bolland come back with out Joe Crede syndrome, and Adam Burish at least 75% is a hell of a lot better than Kopecky. I cant believe no one is beating on that guy. Hes a terrible hockey player and the sooner we dump him the better. His point production is bullshit the last few games and either Bickle now or Burish on one leg is a much better solution.

SpawnOfDitka said:

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Are we still naming lines in 2010?? Is it in poor taste to name the Toews line the BTK Killers?? I thought so.

iplagitr said:

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Excellent list, Mike - and great comments as well. You know it's been a ridiculously great season for the Hawks when it's hard to come up with anything that hasn't been previously stated.

I'll just throw one non-Hawk-specific NHL wish out there: Revise the dumbest rule in hockey - the automatic delay-of-game penalty when the puck gets shot over the glass from the defensive zone!

The original intent of the rule is a good one -- to keep the defense from simply shooting the puck into the crowd anytime they're under pressure. But why, oh why, is this an "automatic" penalty? Do we ever see anyone actually committing this foul in the literal sense the rule was written for? Rarely, if ever. It's almost always an accidental play due to a weird bounce, rolling puck, or flukey accidental stick work. Why do they deem the officials worthy of judging a player's intent on virtually every other play in hockey, but not this one? It's not right that a game could be changed by a power play when a defenseman tries to make a simple pass out of the zone and the puck rolls on him and flutters over the glass. Many more examples could be given. We've all seen them. It's basically giving a 2-minute penalty for just playing hockey.

Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler said:

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Ummmm, I'd take Ovechkin and Crosby at their best over Kane. Sorry.

SpawnOfDitka said:

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1. Management-Give the boys a practice facility they can dress in!!
2. Burish and Bolland-Come back soon!
3. Campbell-Please hit someone at least once this year.
4. DirecTv-Kiss and make up with VS...TODAY!!!
5. Stan Bowman-Get your dad to make the NHL do a Home and Home between the Original Six every year. Do we really need to play Atlanta, Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and the Islanders every year?

iplagitr said:

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Anyone hear any word on Hjalmarsson? Will he be able to play tonight?

Mark Kiley said:

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According to reports, Hjalmarsson will not travel to St. Louis. Hendry is taking his spot in the lineup.

The Blues should be fired-up trying to impress their new interim coach after the dismissal of Murray.

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